The Chimera Within

Chapter 38

Tom and Elias furtively tiptoed through the halls, trying not to draw attention to themselves. Finally Tom saw what at set Elias's alarm bells off ringing. Two big men with crew cuts, wearing padded green coats, unabashedly looking around.

"Aren't those Osborne's goons?" Elias whispered.

"They're GRU soldiers," Tom confirmed, clenching his teeth.

They were looking for someone.

They were looking for them, in Osborne's frenetic efforts to exert complete control over any and all traces of the hybrid technology. In the back of Tom's mind, he knew that it was mostly business with Harold Osborne. This was technology that his company had developed, that could prove to be either highly controversial, or highly profitable. He wasn't leaving anything to chance that this volatile mixture could leak out into someone else's hands.

But now, Osborne had sent out violent killers, looking for Mariah.

That crossed a line, and made it personal.

Elias looked at the stony expression Tom was wearing, as the blood rushed to his face. Elias could almost hear the silicon chip inside his friend's head getting switched to overload.

Without a word, he shoved a stack of papers that he had printed of Elias's fabricated credentials into his hands, and boldly walked up to the two big men. As soon as they saw him, he turned on his heel and started to briskly walk toward the exit. One of them started talking into a radio receiver as they began their pursuit. As Tom approached the front doors to the hospital, a security guard came out, with his hand on his gun. Tom didn't skip a beat. He calmly walked past the guard, who apparently wasn't interested in him anyway. He stopped the two Russian goons, who appeared to be acting in a suspicious manner, and somebody had alerted security.

By the time they extricated themselves from their encounter with security and came running out, they ran into their two comrades who were waiting outside, who were carrying AK-74 assault rifles under their coats. After a heated exchange in Russian, they started circling around the hospital, trying to find where Tom had gotten off to.

Capitalizing on the unexpected and welcome delaying tactic from hospital security, Tom ducked out of sight once he was out the door and proceeded to begin scaling the side of the building. He grinned in satisfaction, as the iron strength in his fingers acted as two carabiners, rapidly propelling himself to the third floor. There, on a ledge in the shadow of a tree, he watched as the four security agents met, and then went off in pursuit.

Where was their boss? Tom scanned the car park, searching for any vehicle that stood out. His eyes zeroed in on a Hyundai Equus that appeared heavily armoured.

"Hello Harry," Tom said to himself. "How good of you to join the party personally."

Tom waited until the four men had separated themselves from any civilians and were in an open area, more or less in line where Harold's limo was parked.

He launched himself off of the ledge and as he came sailing down from the air to attack the unsuspecting security agents, one of them saw him approaching and tried to go for his gun; but it was too late.

Tom hit the ground right in their midst, kicking one in the side of the head as he went down into a roll, knocking down two more like bowling pins. Tom stopped himself in a mid crouch, one hand on the ground and balanced himself with his right leg stretched out straight to the side, as he stared down the remaining soldier on his feet. Tom's eyes looked crazed, as they stared out from his Luchador mask, and the remaining soldier had time to gulp before he went for his assault rifle hanging inside his coat. Tom was crouching about five meters away from the big Russian, but he leaped that distance quicker than you can say 'holy halupkies,' tackling the man to the ground and disarming him. Tom punched him across the face, knocking him unconscious. By now, screaming people were running away from this strange little brawl, and some foolhardy opportunists were trying to capture the events on their cell phones from a safe distance away. Tom decided to give them something really spectacular to flee from.

He stared at the armoured limousine. The door was open, and Harold's unmistakable red hair was silhouetted against the sky, poking out from behind the door. As their eyes met, Harold retreated back into the safety of his car, while Tom released the safety on the assault rifle. Advancing on the car and hoisting the AK-74 into position of aiming at the limo, Tom unleashed round after round, as bullets bounced off the armoured plating.

"I wonder how much punishment this thing can take? Only one way to find out," he said, pausing for a moment as he walked closer to the vehicle. He directed more bullets at the tires, but they also refused to budge. The driver put the car into gear, and the wheels screeched into motion, but Tom stood between them and the exit. He pored more firepower into the grill, finally succeeding in blowing through the radiator and grinding the engine to a halt. He continued to fire into the windshield as the driver ducked while the bulletproof glass slowly started to crack.

Finally the driver threw open the door and fled for his life, while Tom held up this rifle. He had no quarrel with him. He looked over at the Ak-74. It was also equipped with a GP-25 Bonfire grenade launcher. "Why didn't I use that from the beginning?" he grinned to himself.

Tom launched a grenade that rolled under the car and when it exploded, lifted the limo in a spectacular fireball. To Tom's disappointment, it only succeeded in raising the limo about three meters off of the ground. As he was wondering how he could procure another grenade, the car's roof blew off and Harold himself came flying out in an ejection seat.

He landed on the ground wearing his father's green body armour, where Tom was waiting for him. He tackled him down and delivered continuous punches to the face like a man possessed. He finally succeeded in ripping off his helmet and lifting him up, slammed him up against a tree.

"I'm going to kill you, Harold," Tom snarled, in a voice that was strangely calm.

Harold tried to chuckle and project an unruffled demeanour, like he still had complete control of the situation. But his eyes betrayed a wild terror that was sapping his strength and composure.

"Whoa, Tom. That's pretty dark for you. Are you feeling okay?"

"It's not me that you should be worried about."

Two of Harold's goons finally plucked up the courage to try and take out Tom from behind. Grabbing Harold by the collar of his body armour, he swung him around so the soldier that was standing to the right got both of Harold's boots to the face. Throwing Harold to the ground, he delivered a rough outline of Shaolin Forward stance into the other attacker, relying on his enhanced power to send the big man flying backwards through the air.

Turning back to face Harold, Tom's features twisted in hatred. This time Harold was even more prepared for a taunting retort. "Tom, my man. What happened to you? You've changed. There must be something seriously wrong with you and you need to seek medical attention."

"Don't pretend to be concerned with my well-being."

Harold's face got more intense as his mouth twisted into an ugly smile. "Wow, something positively terrible must have happened to you as you were passing through Mexico like a condemned fugitive." He cocked his head to the side. "What was it? Can you still feel the pain? Do the flashbacks keep you up at night?"

Tom let out a roar as he picked Harold up and sent him hurtling across the lawn of the hospital, where he crashed into the bike rack. He was still trying to squeeze out a laugh as Tom pounced on him, seeing that his psychological torment was having the desired effect.

"Can't you see that you've lost? Just give up and I'll see to it that you receive the help you need to make the pain go away."

Tom picked Harold up again by the collar and shoved him up against the building. "It's your own pain you'll be trying forget when I'm through with you. And I'm talking about hurting you in the only way that you care about. You need to back off, Harold, or I'll put Oscorp through such a financial heart attack that economists will be analyzing your company's implosion for decades."

Harold scoffed. "How could you possibly hurt me financially?"

"I'm still the vice president of the laboratories, aren't I? You don't think I couldn't cause you some serious problems? And what about me, as a hybrid? What kind of mess would you find yourself in, if the press suddenly got wind that some kid from Brooklyn developed superpowers from Oscorp's experiments with animal/human hybrids?"

Harold slammed his mouth shut.

Tom kept talking. "So just listen and listen good. I don't want to hurt Oscorp. I'll even continue to carry out my duties and my studies there for the remainder of my internship. But I'm going to need you to leave me alone and not interfere with my patients, you understand me?"

Tom put Harold down as the two men glared at one another. "We're going to have to re-examine your position in the company," Harold said finally.

"I don't really care about that. Just leave me alone. Give me at least a month to finish this project and then maybe we can leave all of this to the past."

"That would be fine," Harold said slowly, with some resignation.

Suddenly Tom felt a chill go up his spine. He ducked as a muscular black figure came swinging past them.

He turned to Harold. "What did you do?"

Harold grimaced. "I may have called in the help of Connors' little pet project."

Tom roared in frustration and pulled two orange grenades off of Harold's belt, before levelling a devastating blow into him, sending the unfortunate executive flying ten meters into the air. He fell crashing to the ground, while clutching his cracked ribs. He remembered remarking upon the effectiveness of his body armour, absorbing an impact that otherwise would have disembowelled him, just before blacking out.

Tom whirled to face this new threat that had materialized, but he was not prepared for the bizarreness of Eddie Brock's appearance. He had swung down the building on a silk rope that seemed to be expelled from his butt, as Brock's transformation into a huge spider continued.

The savagery with which he then proceeded to attack Tom was also unexpected, and at the beginning, Tom was forced to assume a defensive stance as he attempted to ward off one vicious pounding after another. Tom tried to jump away, to put some distance between them, but Brock caught Tom's foot with some sort of sticky spider webbing, and pulled Tom back into the fight.

Tom finally was able to get some shots in by punching Brock in the face, but even that seemed to hurt Tom more than Brock, as his face looked like it was all fangs. Brock tried to wrap more of his secreted sticky webbing around Tom's legs, but he pulled out his dirk knife and slashed out wildly, first at Brock's hands and then cut himself free. Tom leaped and delivered a one two double kick into Brock's face and then jumping high and away, leaped from ledge to ledge until he was on the roof of the building.

Brock was comparatively slow when it came to pursuit, and he tried searching the building from the ground.

Tom smashed his way into an examination room where they kept the first aid training equipment. Working rapidly, he dressed a CPR dummy with his jacket and Nacho Libre mask and, after pulling open the door for the dumbwaiter in the hallway, he pulled out the cables and wrapped the dummy in a rope. Time to send some airmail Brock's way.

Holding onto the rope with one hand, he threw the dummy out the window with the other, causing the dummy to spin in the air. This human shaped projectile captured Brock's attention as it came tumbling towards him. Seeing the red masked figure, he leaped on it when it came close to the ground and buried his fangs into the plastic. His conscious mind knew that this wasn't really his prey, but he liked being able to terrify by his brutality.

As the rope that was wrapped around the plastic figure came loose, he realized that there was another small object that had been double tied against the dummy and was now released. He picked up the small hand sized globe with a flashing orange light, and he struggled to retrieve from his human memory what exactly he was holding. As the orange light on the item began to flash at a considerably faster rate, awareness finally kicked in for Eddie Brock's consciousness, giving him just enough time to emit a sad little whimper as the grenade exploded, transforming him into a gooey red mist.

Tom came running down the hall to where an anxious Elias was waiting. "Come on!" he yelled. "We have to get her out of the city!"

"Where are we going?" Elias asked, after they had scooped Mariah into a wheelchair and were furiously manoeuvring her through the hospital.

"I'll tell you on the way! Now you drive, because I have to try and finish illegally putting together the surgery team for you, 'Dr. Balfour.'"


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